Stone cold, that's what I call the new Oliver Stone film, World Trade Center. Taking the story of two Port Authority Police who survived, Stone manages to make the singular event of the last decade a boring made-for-TV story of two cops buried and waiting rescue, by the Marines no less. There are marks of an auteur to be sure such as the set design, just as authentic looking as when I visited ground zero after the attack. But the mark of the real Stone, one that carries the heft of his personal opinion about an event (Platoon) or his off-center look at history (JFK), is absent.
Let's face it: Two cops, John McLoughlin (Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), buried beneath rubble with small talk to keep themselves alive is neither great drama nor riveting suspense when you know ahead of time they are 2 of the 20 to be saved and their dialogue doesn't come close to the bite of WWII film foxhole repartee. Cutting as often as he can to the dull families in New Jersey waiting for word about their lost loved ones, Stone still fails to make even this horrific event interesting.
As a matter of fact, he fails to put the event into its larger context of a world crisis that changes the way we live forever. It's a challenge to do so if you choose only a small part of the event, but a great director should be able to as Stone did, for instance, with Wall Street, where the shenanigans of one broker clearly represented a corrupt generation of self-centered consumers.
It's as if Oliver Stone promised Hollywood after his disastrous Alexander (which I liked) that he'd be a good boy and not editorialize about 9/11. Heck, point of view is Stone: Remember the conspiracy theory of JFK. Google Loose Change to get an introduction to 9/11 conspiracy theory and wonder why Oliver Stone couldn't have gone there rather than the straight way. Or at least part of the way.
"While you here do snoring lie,
His time doth take.
If of life you keep a care,
Shake off slumber, and beware:
Shakespeare, the Tempest